Safeway net profit helped by sale of Genuardi's stores

* Third-quarter EPS from continuing operations $0.45 vs $0.38 yr ago

* Total sales down 0.2 percent to $10.05 billion * 2012 profit forecast unchanged at $1.90-$2.10/share

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Supermarket operator Safeway Inc posted a lower quarterly profit from continuing operations on Thursday amid rising competition from other grocery sellers, while net profit increased, helped by the sale of some stores.

The operator of grocery stores including Safeway, Vons and Dominick's said third-quarter income from continuing operations was $108 million, or 45 cents per share, versus $130.3 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.

During the quarter, Safeway closed one Genuardi's store and sold 16 Genuardi's stores for an after-tax gain of $49 million. Including that gain, it earned $157 million, or 66 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 8.

Total sales slipped to $10.05 billion from $10.06 billion, hurt by the Genuardi's store closures and a lower Canadian exchange rate, factors that were partially offset by higher sales of gasoline. Closely watched identical-store sales, excluding fuel, rose 0.1 percent.

(Reporting By Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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